New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts rely on employers – from big corporations to small businesses and government organizations to nonprofits – to help educate and train the future workforce. In recognition of the essential role employer partners play in maintaining strong career and technical education programs across the state, each school district annually recognizes a Business Partner of the Year. Among this year’s honorees is Pfizer, whose Covid-19 vaccine team gave a presentation on the science behind the vaccine to Morris County Vocational School District students, educating and inspiring the next generation of great scientists.
“Employer partners add value to our students’ experiences in many ways; they not only serve as mentors and guest speakers, but they help ensure curriculum is relevant and aligns with current industry standards and often donate equipment and materials so students can train in specialized classrooms,” said Jackie Burke, executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools. “And, these partners are especially important for extending students’ learning outside of the classroom; they open their doors for internships, apprenticeships and other work-based learning opportunities.”
County vocational-technical school districts continually seek to establish new relationships with area employers to both meet the needs of the students and help businesses create a pipeline of highly trained employees. Employers looking to connect with their local vocational-technical school to engage and help train students in their industry can visit the Employer section of the careertechnj.org website.
“These partnerships with local businesses and organizations provide a clear pathway for students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply that in the workplace,” said David Nash, work-based learning coordinator for Mercer County Technical Schools (MCTS). “We want students to develop their skills, but more importantly, we want them to use work experiences to unlock their passions early on and begin working toward successful futures.”
MCTS recognized the hospitality division of Genesis Biotechnology in Hamilton as its 2021 Business Partner of the Year. The hospitality division, which oversees a range of entities from the Peacock Inn located in Princeton to a commissary on the Genesis campus, helps fund the company’s research endeavors. These diverse settings provide equally diverse opportunities for MCTS culinary students. “Genesis’ Wayne Susser regularly provides job leads, from offering students internship and shadowing opportunities to experience a night in the kitchen to more permanent positions that may lead to full-time employment,” said Nash.
Many other districts also honored employer partners for providing real-world learning experiences for students, while others lauded a partner that offered multiple layers of support. For instance, Hunterdon County
Vocational School District chose to honor Niece Lumber, which donated lumber and other materials to aid construction science students in their learning, even after Hurricane Ida when supplies were low. Co-owner Brian Currie also serves on the program’s advisory board.
Morris County Vocational School District’s recognition of Pfizer, Inc., celebrates the commitment of the company and its employees to support many career programs, in various ways. In addition to the presentation on the science behind the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, employees from multiple sites and areas of operation have volunteered on several program advisory boards and mentored students through internships. Currently, Pfizer employees are consulting with the district on the design of a new state-of-the-art biotechnology lab for its Academy of Biotechnology.
“We celebrate our Business Partners of the Year for the investment they make in our schools and students, and we know they see a strong return on that investment with each highly trained student who enters their field, and even joins their teams,” added Michael Dicken, NJCCVTS president and superintendent of Gloucester County Vocational-Technical School District. “We anticipate our employer partners will further lend their expertise over the next few years to help our districts create and enhance career pathways made possible through the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act.”
The complete list of 2021 Business Partners of the Year includes:
Atlantic County Institute of Technology: Atlantic County Economic Alliance, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
Bergen County Technical School District: Dellicker Strategies, Lehigh Valley, Pa.
Burlington County Institute of Technology: Lockheed Martin, Moorestown, N.J.
Camden County Technical Schools: Chartwells Food Service
Cape May County Technical Schools: Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority, Cape May Court House, N.J.
Cumberland County Technical Education Center: Northeast Precast, Millville, N.J.
Essex County Schools of Technology: Montclair Community Farms, Montclair, N.J.
Gloucester County Institute of Technology: Razorfish Health, Philadelphia
Hudson County Schools of Technology: Royal Printing, West New York, N.J.
Hunterdon County Vocational School District: Niece Lumber, Lambertville, N.J.
Mercer County Technical Schools: Genesis Biotechnology Hospitality Division, Hamilton, N.J.
Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools: Edison Heating and Cooling, Edison, N.J.
Monmouth County Vocational School District: CentraState Medical Center, Freehold, N.J.
Morris County Vocational School District: Pfizer, Inc., Pearl River, N.Y. and Peapack, N.J.
Ocean County Vocational Technical School: Earle Asphalt and Eosso Brothers Paving, Jackson Twp. and Farmingdale, N.J.
Passaic County Technical-Vocational Schools: The Barrow House and the Skopos Hospitality Group, Clifton, N.J.
Salem County Vocational Technical School District: Diamond Materials, Newport, Del.
Somerset County Vocational and Technical Schools: F.W. Webb Company, Piscataway, N.J.
Sussex County Technical School: Mountain Creek Resort, Vernon, N.J.
Union County Vocational-Technical Schools: Miller Electric Manufacturing Company, Pennsauken Township, N.J.
Warren County Technical Schools: Kristina Michele Salon, Hackettstown, N.J.